Lawrence residents startled by lightning strike that sends tree into home

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LAWRENCE, Kan. — People living in one Douglas County neighborhood won’t soon forget Labor Day 2015.

A large tree was destroyed by lightning during the early morning hours, and four people sleeping inside a nearby home narrowly escaped injury.

A loud 4 a.m. wake-up call came to the University Place neighborhood, as a giant lightning strike ruined a huge, old pin oak tree. It exploded, throwing branches onto a pair neighboring homes on Mississippi Street while their residents slept.

“Just all of a sudden the ceiling started coming in,” Rosemary Kay, 87, said.

Kay says she was sleeping soundly, until lightning struck just outside her bedroom window. She was startled, but not concerned, until part of that 80-foot tree came crashing through her roof.

That bolt of electricity split the big tree in half, and a large portion of it ended up on the house Kay, a Texas native, has called home for the past decade.

“It sounded like when they used to do tests out at Lackland (Air Force Base),” Kay said. “I grew up in an army town with five bases, and something was going on all the time.”

Three college students live in the home on the tree’s southern side, one of whom told FOX 4 News his house will also need extensive repairs. Neighbors from blocks around heard the crash, and found shattered tree pieces on their own sidewalks, including Kim Kreicker, who says she’s seen fallen trees in this neighborhood, but nothing of this size.

“We all woke up,” Kriecker said. “There was like a sonic boom or a bomb went off in the neighborhood. We heard a little bit of lightning, so we’re sort of awake. We all sat right up in bed.”

One insurance worker on-site commented the cleanup job could cost as much as $10,000. It would be a lot more expensive had anyone been injured or killed in this incident, but fortunately, everyone is OK.

Kay tells FOX 4 News she plans to rebuild her home, but for the time being, she’ll stay with nearby family members.




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